Beeminder Forum

What are your new year's resolutions for 2020?

Good question! What’s worked great for Beeminder’s UVI goal is to have a sense of what the spirit of the commitment is and then make the hard criterion be “anything we’re willing to publicly announce as the UVI counts as the UVI”. Ie, just leverage shame/pride to keep it from getting weaselly.


Hmm, I like it. Maybe silly, but… In order to leverage the shame/pride bright line, would you literally publish your LOVIe’s in a monthly newsletter to your loved ones? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Might be an interesting social experiment… :laughing:


Don’t be silly, you’d publish them daily! :grin:

But, yeah, an email list or private Facebook group or wherever makes sense. Or do it all totally publicly…


I’m leaning more towards the “yearly themes” as popularized by the Cortex podcast.

Last year was the year of raw output, considering I had to finish a PhD and still ran my Blog on the side and was starting a Youtube channel. Next year is the year of Settling and Whittling down. I’ve spent a long long time in Academia now and I’m kind of over it. Next year I want to find a more steady job in a place I enjoy living. I’ve felt very uprooted where I live currently and that’s not good for anyone including me.

So settling down in a career sense and in a physical place. But also give my overactive ambition a small break. The last year was impressive, but I also suffered from burnout during the last 1.5 months and I need to breathe again. And also let the friendships I forged settle a bit. I have made some wonderful friends and I want to nourish these friendships. Obviously I don’t have a relationship at the time, otherwise I’d better find a better wording than “settling down” nor have the time to do half the things I do.

Whittling down in a sense that I’ve started and tried a ton of things. Created great opportunities, however, I think I’m starting to get a feel for the things I’d enjoy to pursue further and the things I need to let die for something better to grow from the compost. I’ve done a lot of volunteer work for my professional society and they aren’t particularly thankful about it. It’s something I’m very happy to let go, as I’m neither having an impact nor a positive ROI, while they’re trying to leverage my network and expertise. Thanks but no thanks. There are greater things to build. Making visually appealing explainer videos about things I enjoy doing and have expertise in on the other hand is amazing and this huge learning opportunity and creative outlet. So yeah, it’s basically a dumb way of saying “prioritize” but I want it to sound good together.

So yeah, essentially I need to build some structure in my life and prioritize projects so I can focus on what matters and regain some headspace.

In the meantime of figuring these things out, I plan to build systems that accommodate a more healthy lifestyle and do some leisure travel and not just convenient weekends after business trips.

The habits I want to keep doing is regular exercise and meditation. Writing and creative work. Play casual Pokemon. However, I do need to eat better and get back into the habit of keeping my surrounding a little less… Uhm… bachelorish? But those are well on their way already. I’m down 5kg since handing in my thesis and my place has only recently turned to a dumpster over Christmas and will be fine within the next few days again. I’ve recently fallen out of the habit of journaling too and I am in the process of changing it again.

I’m really looking forward to the new decade. (Don’t at me.)


I plan on prioritizing health with a rabid zeal. I don’t mean doing any particular health thing to extreme, but to be unflinching in making health the top priority this year. My body did me a solid in 2019; it’s time to reciprocate.

To that end, I’ve got a Must-Do-Task-syle graph for “Most Important Tasks: Health Edition”. I absolutely love the Must Do Task format for a graph, and so now I’m making one for this.

I’ve got other plans for the year, of course, but that’s the top one.


Would a resolution like “I won’t do sugar except in my morning chai” work for you? Or “I won’t do sugar after [midday | 2pm | 5pm]”? Anything that limits your sugar a little is an improvement!

If you find that successful, you could slowly make it more restrictive. For example, change the time limit from “after midday” to “after 11am” or change the chai sugar from 2 teaspoons to 1.7 teaspoons. I’ve found that as I remove sweet things from my diet, my tolerance for sweetness decreases, so after a while it gets a bit easier to reduce more.


Happy New Year @dreev, will this year also have a Survivor Challenge? :wink:


Yes, I guess that will help. I’ll try to do that. Thanks.

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I just want to confirm that this is a great idea. I went with 1 beeminder goal for each person.

ping_bartek, ping_babcia, ping_łucja and so on


OK, I rather love LOVIe… although I fear my loved one’s definition of a visible improvement and my own definition might diverge!


That’s a question for @mary but I think even knowing what an insane amount of work running a contest is, this one still surprised us and so we’re sadly not ready to repeat it for 2020!

Btw, these responses are wonderful, everyone. Thank you! Keep them coming!


Repeating from the daily beemail…

Thanks so much for sharing your new year’s resolutions (straw poll in yesterday’s beemail, in case you missed it)!

Let me collect the answers below…

There were also two common questions:

Q1. Time is continuous so aren’t humans just being silly to pretend that a new year is some kind of momentous event or for it to matter what calendar day a new goal starts on?

A1. I used to think this! Psychology research on temporal landmarks changed my mind. Or probably it was first Slate Star Codex that changed my mind, as it commonly does:

But Eugenio Bruno and Cayenne Geis both made a good point that the psychological power of a temporal landmark can cut both ways. If you fall off the wagon then it’s especially demoralizing and harder to get back on. I made a similar point in a blog post about minding streaks:

Q2. Aren’t the 20s technically 2021-2030 inclusive because there was no year zero and so the first decade was 1-10 A.D. and the second was 11-21 A.D., etc?

No, pretty much everyone who talks about a decode like the 50s means the years starting “195*”. The single-digit years from when Jesus was a kid can just be 9 years and whether you call that the first “decade” or not doesn’t matter. Or go with this Argument from Authority:


[See also the rest of this thread!]

  1. Meditation at least five days a week. (more than one person said this)
  2. Work less hours.
  3. Do one household chore a day at least three times a week.
  4. Something diet related and something brain related like daily journaling.
  5. No resolutions or goals – new systems (like a new system for dishes and laundry). More than one person said something like this.
  6. Making music! (with an elaborate strategy for beeminding it <3)
  7. Be more active.
  8. Gradually go from vegetarian to vegan.
  9. Learn to bake bread.
  10. Maintain weight after weight loss in 2019.
  11. Principles that drive goal/project creation: Learn new things, Be calm and kind, Fight for what’s right, Honor commitments, Be fast at easy things, Don’t be a distracted parent.
  12. Read a particular book and write 100 words/day of my novel.
  13. Lose a pound a week throughout 2020.
  14. Run a 10k in March and a 20k in August.
  15. Build my own data-tracking tool that integrates with Beeminder.
  16. Work on my writing career till it earns real money.

@bee @dreev

What is “neglect minding”? I missed that one.


Ah, good question! That’s my term for one of the metrics that @galtsubery’s has: the sum of the ages of a set of to-dos or messages or whatever else you need to deal with. The main thing I’m neglect-minding these days is my Pocket queue.

Quoting myself from another thread:

I love Trello’s feature (what they call a Power-Up, that you have to enable for each Trello board) of fading out neglected cards. Combined with the neglect-minding feature of it’s working nicely for me as a way to force myself to revisit to-do items and avoid cruft and task-starvation.

There’s lots of nitty-gritty about it in a long forum thread about

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My favourite method for reducing sugar consumption was in reducing sugar purchases. When I first started, it was a bet with my mother, and we both only got to buy anything with sugar in it in response to a holiday (with a list of exception items that we couldn’t replace, for weird dietary reasons that are particular to us). The only thing that we couldn’t buy was an actual bag of sugar. We could still have sugary treats others bought for us or available at an event, or whatever (but not buy dessert at restaurants or put sugar in our Starbucks).

I liked that so much that when our bet was over, I turned it into a Beeminder graph. I changed the “can’t buy a bag of sugar” rule to it costing 5 units in my graph (since I would want to have it around for baking or making egg nog, and I lean away from using it anyway, so that was okay for me). Everything else was just +1 unit, whether it was a single-serving candy or a bottle of maple syrup. That made it crazy easy to track, and it didn’t really feel as restrictive as all that. It did enough to cause me to reduce my sugar consumption, but there was a lot of flexibility and leniency to it. If you’re trying to quit outright, it might not be particularly helpful, but if you’re trying to reduce consumption, I highly recommend trying it to see if it’s as handy for you as it was for me!


How is someone tracking making music?
I have found a website (integromat, has anyone tried integromat before?) with automation so that when I upload a new track to soundcloud it would then trigger a webhook for beeminder. I havent taken it live yet but I am intrigued by what this other person is doing for this?


Person with the music goal here.

Right now I have two goals setup: one for just time spent on music making in general and the other for time specifically spent playing trombone.

When I’m tracking trombone practice at home, datapoints come from the timer in the Beeminder app. Started once the instrument is assembled and stopped after I finish playing my cool off sequence. Once I start playing I almost never get distracted by something else, so this is a pretty accurate measure.
When I’m tracking ensemble rehearsals I just make a rough estimate of horn-to-face time, rounded down the the nearest 6 minutes (1.2 is just easier to type than 1:12:00).

I created an IFTTT trigger to copy datapoints from the trombone goal to the general music goal.

music has a higher weekly rate than trombone, so the deficit can be made up by any time spent intentionally furthering my music making. So practicing/learning another instrument, studying music theory, composing, simply playing more trombone, even programming for an algorithmic composition project I’m working on, could count toward this.
As the year goes I’ll probably make a few more sub-goals akin to trombone (I’m thinking viola to get myself back into regular practice and piano to actually get competent at playing both hands concurrently so far).


Today I got a new resolution: reset all reused passwords (Google has a checkup tool for this In the process, delete any accounts that I’m not using.
Unfortunately, this is a manual-only goal.


As much as I don’t want to be a “Google bad” type of person. If you’re in the process of doing that, consider using an encrypted password manager like LastPass instead. Super convenient. Helps with the re-use problem too and generates random secure passwords for you. But is behind a proper encrypted solution with a lot of features you can extend to should you want to be more secure beyond the basics, but the basics already put you in a very good spot.


My new years resolutions are, in decreasing order of likelihood of achievement:

I’ve struggled with back problems in the past, so running seems unlikely for me to actually hit, but I’m on the right track for it so far and having a great time. I previously have run a couple marathons and a 50k, so running is pretty important to my well being.

The weight goal is long-running and has seen me lose 25 pounds since 2016, but the last 5 here seem to be particularly difficult. Central to my strategy right now is drinking a ton of water and making sure I don’t overcompensate for running with increased calorie intake.

The cooking goal is pretty easy, to the point that I don’t think it even requires beeminding (we’ll see, I guess, and maybe I’ll make a goal later this year if I fall off the wagon). This month I made a dutch baby and my wife made mole. Next month I’m going to make homemade al pastor. We cook a lot so it’s not hard to find times to try new recipes.

Other considered goals:

  • stick to a skincare routine every day all year
  • stay regular with flossing

Those are both fairly low-effort, though, and unless I start seeing major slippage I’m not going to start minding them. I like my list of goals to be minimal, as much as I can make it.